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First Smoke - Have A Few Questions

post #1 of 13
Thread Starter 
So this weekend I'm going to try my first smoke... some pulled pork using a pork picnic shoulder and my charbroil vertical charcoal smoker. I read the sticky at the top and have a good idea of what I need to do. From what I gather this is a long process, from 8-20 hours depending on the size of the picnic, temps outside, etc. The thing is, I don't really have the time to do the whole thing in the smoker, so I'm planning to bring it up to 160 in the smoker, then foil and pop it in the oven to finish it off. So my questions are:

1. I plan on getting some lump charcoal if I can find it, otherwise charwood. What type of wood should I use? Seems like chunks are better than chips?

2. After it reaches 160, can I finish it in a crockpot instead of the oven? Anyone tried this? I made some pulled pork in a crockpot a few years back and it had the right texture... but was missing genuine BBQ flavor.

Thanks everyone.
post #2 of 13
I use lump coal in 1 of my smokers-not sure what char wood is-fuel source?I use hickory for my smoke on a pork for pulling. and why slow cooker and not finish in the oven?I never done finished in crock-pot.sombody be around soon to help ya more-sorry
post #3 of 13
I have never finished in a crock pot...but I am sure it would work. Keep an eye on your internal temp and pull it out around 200.

Might take longer than finishing in the oven...Thats the only difference I can see.

I use lump and a maple cherry combo when I do my butts.

Good luck...sounds like a wonderful easter dinner. PDT_Armataz_01_34.gif
post #4 of 13
The crockpot should work in theory. You might want to fire up your grill and give the picnic a light "charring" before putting it in the crockpot. If you get a newer crockpot that has a temperature probe, things will be even easier for you.
post #5 of 13
hickory. good stuff!
post #6 of 13
char-wood and lump charcoal are the same thing really. i think char-wood is a name brand. for the most part if your using these sources they will have a blend of hard woods in them. i think one i have seen uses only oak, called royal oak i believe. wally world has a decent selection and believe it or not most albertsons, Kroger's etc keep a few different brands on the shelves. if you really want to zero in on one particular flavor of wood you will need to get some of the chunks of wood or make your own. i have done that in the past and i will use the charcoal to get things started and use the wood to keep things going, adding charcoal as needed from time to time. remember to try and heat up the wood before placing on the coals to not get that crestole smoke, i would just stick mine on top of my fire box, or in your case just stick it on top of the smoker.

i must admit you are doing a doosy your first time!!!!!!!!!! keep in mind you could also do something like a pork loin or chicken while your getting the butt to temp. this way you have a snack inbetween. or maybe some ABTs. mmmmmmmmm abts
post #7 of 13
1.) Lump is good! As for chips or chunks chunks will give you a longer lasting smoke but you may find a better variety in the chips. Maybe a mix of the 2. I use hickory and orange mainly but I also love pecan.

2.) I think this is a fantastic idea but you may not save yourself too much time. The plateau has always hit me before that temp and then after it goes up quickly. Then again the last butt I smoked took close to 20 hours and never rose quickly after the plateau. It just creeped up 1 degree at a time after. The crock would have been great and helped me get some sleep. Purists will argue this isn't traditional and such but you know what. Who cares! You will get good results although the bark will be soft due to the moisture in a crock.

Good luck and enjoy your smoke!
post #8 of 13
I use Apple wood and Apple Cider for the liquid.
Quite a challange for the first time.

Make it fun
post #9 of 13
Thread Starter 
Thanks to all for the tips.

I did not know the difference between lump and charwood... here in NJ it's sometimes tough to find a good variety of BBQ supplies. We'll see what I can find.

I first came to SMF looking for info on smoking venison jerky, and it was suggested I start with pulled pork because it might be more forgiving and give me a chance to get familiar with the smoker.
post #10 of 13
Good luck on your smoke brother!

I wish I had advice for you, but I'm pretty new to the smoking world.

One thing I know for sure - these guys will definitely steer you right!
post #11 of 13
Don't let the shoulder intemedate you, the are pretty easy & forgiving.the nite before coat that baby in yellow musturd,let it dry a bit & pat your rup all over it-wrap in plastic wrap let sit over nite in the fridge.Like Vlap said the bark will end up softer in the crock pot.
post #12 of 13
Thread Starter 
Well the first smoke is over and I would say it went pretty well... first the q-view, then the questions.

I got two small boneless shoulder cuts but I forgot to take pictures of them before hand. The night before I applied the rub, wrapped in plastic and let them hang out overnight in the fridge. The next day I left them out a bit to take the chill off while I got the smoker going. The water pan was filled with boiling water and the charcoals were started along with a single hickory chunk off to the side. In they went and I tried to keep the temps somewhere in the 225-240 range, but in actuality they were somewhere between 200 and 250 (more on this later).

Here they are, smoking away...

A few hours into it... I flipped them once and basted them with apple juice/bourbon every hour or so.

After about 5 hours they were up to 155 or so, it was getting late, and I was tired, so I took out the crockpot, set it to low and dropped them in. I also poured in a bit of apple juice to keep it from drying out too much.

The next morning they were looking very done, so I whipped up the finishing sauce described in the stickies and began pulling.

The results... delicious! Excellent flavor... a bit dry, but tasted much better than the pulled pork I had done in the crockpot years back.

post #13 of 13
Thread Starter 
First off, thanks for all the help and encouragement everyone has provided. I am very pleased with how my first attempt turned out, but I'm sure it could be much better and I'm sure the process could have been much smoother. So, the questions:

1. How can I more easily keep a stable temperature? The smoker generally ran cold... it was ~45 degrees out, a bit of wind but not much. I would watch the temps and when it got down around 220, heat up a handful of charcoal on a side burner and pop it in. This worked okay but it required near constant attention... there's got to be a better way.

2. The pork was a little dry... maybe I smoked it too long, or maybe it was in the crockpot too long? I think next time I might reserve some of the cooking liquid from the water tray.

3. I think the smoker could have setup better... I actually put the charcoal bowl under the smoker and put a grate on the lowest 'setting', with the charcoal on the rack. The helped make sure plenty of air got to the coals and the ashes had a place to fall, but it may have hurt the burn rate since they didn't really have much thermal mass as all the old coals fell to the bottom. I think I remember people modding their smokers... any advice on this?
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